Uber To Develop Flying Cars, Hires Former NASA Advanced Aircraft Engineer [Video]By Dan Camins, UniversityHerald Reporter
Uber is reportedly intent on taking passengers across town on flying cars, and they just made a significant hire in former NASA's Langley Research Center advanced aircraft engineer named Mark Moore.
Back in 2010, Moore published a whitepaper (PDF) that outlined the feasibility of smaller and quieter electric aircraft that could take off and land like helicopters, according to Bloomberg. He called it the NASA Puffin Electric Tailsitter VTOL Concept. VTOL stands for Vertical Takeoff and Landing.
Although it does not mean Uber will build its own flying vehicles anytime soon, rather, according to Engadget, Uber wants to make the market a reality. If it comes to it, Uber will most likely contract the work out to other firms; much like it has been doing for its fleet of autonomous vehicles.
Moore is an engineer specific challenges Uber and its partners might face. Accordingly, the hire came in time, too. Google co-founder Larry Page has reportedly started funding flying car companies, Kitty Hawk and Zee.Aero.
Uber reportedly hired Moore to be director of engineering for aviation. He is to work on Uber Elevate, which is Uber's arm, seeking to develop aircraft capable of VTOL. Uber Elevate aims to upend the traditional work commute. Nikhil Goel, head of product for Uber's advanced programs said that Uber wants to see its role as a catalyst to growing developing VTOL ecosystem.
Although the prospect looks promising, it will not be simple as it sounds. As it is, airspace is well regulated and would require regulations to be relaxed a bit to allow personal aircraft to traverse intercity airspace. Landing and takeoff zones they call "vertiports" also have to be constructed around suburbs and cities.
Another obstacle Uber will be facing is cost. According to c|net, Uber believes that, in the long term, VTOL can become an affordable method of daily transport. Since there are no existing precedent and no existing ecosystem, there is no guessing how long the project will take. Check out the video below for added information.